PAST: Ukiyo-e

The finest Japanese prints
Fri 21-10-2016 - Sun 05-03-2017
Due to its great success, the exhibition was extended during 3 extra weekends (18 & 19/02, 25 & 26/02 and 4 & 5/03). CLOSED DURING THE WEEK.

Did you know that the Cinquantenaire Museum owns one of the finest collections of Japanese prints in the world ? These gems had leave the museum depot to shine on a prestigious exhibition in Belgium, for the first time since Europalia Japan (1989). Japanese courtesans, samurai, Mount Fuji...  All the iconic elements of Japanese culture that inspired the artists of the Land of the Rising Sun were to discovered. You were in the company of renowned names such as Hokusai, creator of the world's most famous Wave.

The Japanese term ukiyo-e means literally “pictures of the floating world”. The term “floating world” (ukiyo) originates in Buddhism, and refers to earthly life characterised by suffering and transitoriness. Over time, this negative connotation disappeared and since the 17th century the term ukiyo has been synonymous with a world of fleeting pleasures. It is this hedonistic meaning that is paired with the suffix e (“picture”) in the term ukiyo-e.

Although ukiyo-e originally referred to painting, nowadays it is associated with traditional printmaking. Traditional wood engraving, or xylography, experienced a spectacular rise in popularity in the 17th century when commercial production evolved to satisfy an growing wealthy middle-class clientele in Edo (present-day Tokyo), seat of the Shogun court. Initially, the most popular subjects depicted were feminine beauty and kabuki actors.

In order to safeguard the collection's exceptional colours, the prints have been replaced mid-December.

In light of the exhibition Ukiyo-e, about forty of the illustrator and comic book author Dimitri Piot's drawings were putted on show as well as a few cases displaying several studies showing his creative process. Among these there were an original series set in Brussels, especially made within the context of 150 years of friendship and economic relations between Belgium and Japan.